An interesting report on “pathways out of poverty through maize and job’s tear” is available online (thanks to Bernard Moizo for the reference). The abstact for the paper reads:
This working paper provides a more in-depth study focused on specific areas in Luang Prabang and Vientiane provinces as a continuation of the first phase study, which was a review of the history of production, marketing,consumption and policy related to secondary crops and non-secondary crops produced in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. As maize and Job’s tear are the most important secondary crops in Lao PDR, this study will focus on field investigations regarding the potentials and constraints in farming production, marketing and the processing industry of these crops.
In both of the case studies an overwhelming percentage of households are listed as either farm operators or farm labourers. But at the same time it is reported that a substantial number of families have young members working in urban factories (such as garment factories in Vientiane). This move off-farm is interpreted as a response to under-producing farming systems rather than as an active pursuit of alternative sources of income. This may well be the case, but a more concerned emphasis on what Rigg call “pluriactivity” (see my post of earlier today) may be useful.